Now What?

Now What?

Now What?

January 13, 2016 by

At this time of year, I get many inquiries about what projects there are to help the deer and deer hunting for the fall.  Deer season and growing big antlers happens in a small percentage of the available time and you have to work smart and hard when the time comes. And now is the time.

Timely projects include, but certainly are not limited to:

Keep all protein feeders full and operational. Deer are growing antlers and raising babies, they need all the extra nutrition possible. Check for squirrel and raccoon damage to the feeder wires, spinner plate, latches and lid. Is there a huge hole under the feeder from all the hog activity? If so, either move the feeder over or fill in the hole so that feed doesn’t fall in standing water when it rains. Are the legs spayed out from hogs or cattle rubbing on them? Perhaps building a large pen around the feeder is required. What about those all-important trail/scouting cameras? Batteries need replacing and they likely need cleaning before they will be ready again this fall.

For food plots, take soil samples on those areas not yet sampled, heavy/deep disc now to remove any unwanted grass or in more dry areas, simply spraying might be in order. How many acres are in your food plot system now and do you need more? If so, do you need more warm or cool season forage plants?   Research your options and get informed and ready for the planting season ahead of time. Do existing food plots need fencing from the cattle or enlarged to keep the deer from wiping them out so quickly? Consider exclosures this fall to gauge exactly how the plants perform. Do you need to adjust your planting date or rates this fall? What worked best last fall and what can be experimented with this year?

Predator control work is important this time of year. Remove feral hogs when and where possible, they depredate on everything baby-related.  Snaring and trapping coyote, bobcat, fox and raccoons will help too.  Raccoons and fox don’t predate on deer, but they do impact quail and turkey production and raccoons certainly disturb deer feeders. Traps around watering sources baited with any smelly work very well. There is a difference between predator control and predator eradication. You can’t, nor don’t want to, eradicate predators, but their numbers do need to be controlled.

Analyze the past season’s harvest data to gauge your success.  What effect, if any, did this past winter’s drought have on your deer population?  Does your adult sex ratio need adjusting? Did you see a positive response from your management actions? What worked best and what didn’t work this past season and why? Do it now in order to make better management and harvest decisions this fall.

Is it time to relocate deer blinds in order to keep the deer guessing? Do you need to select a new blind location due to deer movement patterns?  Set up new locations now so that the animals can get used to them before this hunting season.  Are there large blocks of acreage on your hunting grounds that lack water?  If so, now is the time to get water lines installed or call in a dozer to build a new pond. How are the cattle impacting the grass component on the property? Too many cattle can reduce fawning cover and therefore fawn survival. Do you need more cross-fencing to rotate the cattle more often or do you need to simply reduce the total numbers? Does the property have enough valuable “edge effect” or do you need to create more?

How about the group of hunters and the hunting cabin itself? There are always camp repairs and wood to stack. Are all the hunters as educated about deer management as they need to be? Summertime is seminar and convention time, so encourage education and more involvement with the program so that everyone benefits. Are they familiar with and have they successfully passed the Shoot or Wait game to your satisfaction? Is the fall survey already scheduled? Are there any hunting vehicle repairs needed? Remember that unexplainable miss last fall? Perhaps a new scope, a new rifle, a new set of binoculars…………….

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Posted in: Deer Management

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